I don’t know if it’s possible to miss something before you’ve even left it, but that’s currently how I’m feeling about the arts scene in Memphis. Through my internship at ArtsMemphis I’ve had the privilege to hear about countless cultural events occurring throughout the city whether it’s a Sundance short film festival in Crosstown Arts or a musical being work shopped about the Stax museum. What I’ve come to like most about Memphis is not only the plethora of arts that one can access, but also the use of the arts as a vehicle for change.
Living in the Memphis College of Art we are gifted to have the Levitt Shell situated right in our back yard (literally across the street in Overton Park). The Shell is free four times a week, making the arts accessible and affordable (although other issues still must be taken into account when it comes to “accessing the arts” aside from price) and often hosts progressive organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Additionally, through ArtsMemphis I was able to take a youth led bus tour of the Orange Mound neighborhood. This tour included a variety of historical reenactments and instances of music, song, and dance. The Orange Mound Tour was a form of “creative placemaking,” utilizing the arts to tell the story and experience of a culturally rich community that is often regarded with negative connotations by those who do not inhabit the neighborhood. I’ve come to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to generate equity through the arts and have gotten to enjoy some outstanding performances as well.
What a whirlwind of a summer it has been! New places, new friends, new food, and new experiences seem like a daily occurrence here in Memphis, Tennessee. This week, we had some exciting and meaningful events going on. On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to Rhodes College to attend an etiquette lunch followed by a resume workshop. The etiquette lunch consisted of a 4 course meal in which we were taught the proper etiquette in eating each course. Throughout the meal, I was able to pick up many tips for fine dining etiquette and enjoyed the opportunity we had to ask our host other assorted etiquette related questions.
The resume workshop immediately following the lunch was also very helpful and educational. After going over the standard resume format, our speaker went around to everyone individually and helped them with their personal resumes. I really appreciated the one-on-one attention that he gave us. After the workshop, one of the other TI fellows took a small group of us on a tour of Rhodes College. I really enjoy seeing other college campuses, and this was no exception. Rhodes was the smallest college campus I have ever visited, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful. Its picturesque campus is one of the nicer ones I have seen.
The next morning, our group was up bright and early to volunteer at St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen. Though I have volunteered at many places in my lifetime, I found my St. Mary’s experience to be unique. One of the activities I had the chance to help with was distributing clothes to the homeless. The way the system operated was that each man or woman that came was assigned a volunteer who would walk them to the different clothing sections and help them pick out their clothes. I had the chance to escort numerous of the less fortunate and I felt it was an eye-opening experience. To have the opportunity to have these one-on-one interactions with these people was a very meaningful experience to me. That evening, we had a group Havdalah in our dorm building. Desserts from different places from all across the city were served and the theme of the evening was compassion, which turned into a very meaningful conversation.
Beyond the program, I have been able to experience as much of what Memphis offers as I can. This week I went to Overton park a few times, including once to a musical performance at the Levitt Shell, which is always a fun time. I also had the chance to eat at two of Memphis’s finest BBQ establishments in the Germantown Commissary and the Bar-B-Q Shop. In general, the TI fellowship has done a very good job of exposing me to the city of Memphis. It has been an excellent experience and has helped be gain quite the admiration for the city. The summer is flying by too fast but I can’t wait for the few weeks!